Batavia Downs Championship season starts Wednesday
Written by Alex Feig on July 22, 2019
By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
Batavia, NY — The 73rd season of live harness racing at Batavia Downs gets underway on Wednesday (July 24), runs through Saturday (Dec. 14) and features the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) Night of Champions which will be the richest card of racing ever presented in Western New York.
Opening night post time is 6 p.m.
During the 65-day season, live racing will take place on Wednesdays at 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings at 6 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 1:15 p.m. (Sundays through August only). There will also be racing on Monday on four occasions during the meet including July 29 (5 p.m.), August 5 (5 p.m.), Labor Day Sept.2 (1:15 p.m.) and Columbus Day Oct. 14 (1:15 p.m.). And please note a special 3:15 p.m. post on Saturday (Nov.2) for Breeders Cup Day.
The racing product will be as good as it gets in both stake and overnight action led by eight divisions of the NYSS that will visit the Downs on Wednesday (July 24), Sunday (July 28), Sunday (Aug. 4), Wednesday (Aug. 7), Wednesday (Aug, 14), Tuesday (Aug. 23), Wednesday (Aug. 24) and Sunday (Aug. 28). And the NYSS Night of Champions will be contested on Saturday (Sept. 14). That night will also mark the return of Batavia Downs signature stake the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Invitational pace.
The overnight action is sure to draw the best horses available with the announced 10-percent purse increase across the board. With that in place the Open I events on both gaits (with a minimum of six starters) will compete for $12,500, Open II for $11,000 and Open III for $10,000.
Claiming races will be positively affected as well and at all levels. For example, a $25,000 claimer will go for a $11,000 purse, a $10,000 claimer will go for $8,500 and a $4,500 claimer will go for $4,900.
As a result, Batavia Downs will pay out over $8 million in purse money during the 65-day meeting.
Last year’s leading driver Drew Monti will be back to defend his titles against the likes of Kevin Cummings, Billy Davis Jr., Ray Fisher Jr. and Shawn McDonough. The Downs top trainer JD Perrin will also return to try and repeat against last year’s leaders that include James Clouser Jr., Ryan Swift, Gerry Sarama and John Mungillo.
All participating horsemen will find the track has been completely resurfaced with newly banked turns, proper stretch grading and all new surface material. This should ensure a lightning fast and safe track that and produce fast miles and strong competition.
There have been some changes made to the betting menu this year with the addition of a late Pick-3 (on a minimum 10-race card) and a late Pick-4 (on a minimum nine-race card) giving fans two chances to play this popular wager each night.
Also starting after Labor Day there will be a guaranteed Pick-5 pool offered on Wednesday in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association’s (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program. This will include free downloadable program pages available for each of those nights.
Betting minimums for each wager include $2 Win/Place/Show, $1 Daily Double and Exacta, 50-cent Trifecta, Pick-3, Pick-4 and Pick-5 and 20-cent Superfectas.
The Downs very popular Clubhouse group dining packages (minimum of 10 people) will return offering delicious buffet options, free programs, Free Play on the gaming floor and new this year, a free $2 bet for each attending member of a group. For availability and pricing check our website at www.bataviadownsgaming.com or call Mary Bucceri at 585.344.6144.
Fans attending the track will again find a robust slate of promotions throughout the year. A total of 30 food, betting and prize promotions dot the 65-day schedule with something to interest everyone.
Opening night features free programs (while supplies last) to everyone attending the track.
Dollar Sundays run from July 28 to August 25 and feature hot dogs, draft beer and soda for only $1 from noon until the last race.
Saturday (Aug. 10) is Batavia Downs Gaming Hotel Night where 10 one-night stays at the beautiful Hotel at the Downs will be given away to eligible Players Club members who enter the drawing.
Saturday (Aug. 17) is TAG Jewelry Night and a $3,500 (retail) diamond bracelet will be given away to eligible Players Club members who enter the drawing.
Saturday (Aug. 24) is Artemis Spa Night. 10 $100 spa gift certificates will be given away to eligible Players Club members who enter the drawing.
Sunday (Aug. 25) is Family Fun Day and the famous Wiener Dog Races. This is always the most attended day at the track and features the 15th annual Dachshund Dash wiener dog races sponsored by Genesee Feeds of Batavia. Ten elimination races with eight dogs in each will come down to one final to crown this year’s champion.
Other events that day include free pony rides, face painting, sand art, snow cones and appearances by Pringles the Clown, Jason the Juggler, Johnathan the Magician and Mr. Scribbles.
Monday (Sept. 2) is the annual Labor Day Driver’s Bike Race. Eight of our top drivers compete on bicycles for a quarter mile and then those bicycles are randomly given away by drawing to fans who selected the winning driver.
Saturday (Sept. 14) is the $1.8 million NYSS Night of Champions and the $50,000 Robert J. Kane Invitational Pace. There will also be a NYSS T-shirt give-away in conjunction with the Night of Champions. Players Club members will receive a ticket redeemable for a New York Sire Stake T-shirt after the seventh race.
“Although our meet is just getting underway, our staff has been working feverishly all year with an aggressive schedule of projects to ready the Downs for the biggest meet we’ve ever held,” said Todd Haight, Director/General Manager of Batavia Downs.
“With the New York Sire Stakes selecting us to host the Night of Champions, it was our goal to have our track and facilities in the best possible shape to provide the best conditions for visiting owners, trainers, drivers, their horses and our customers all year and I think we have done just that.”